Blue Bomber Report Record: 5–3–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bellefeuille knows he's jumping into hornets' nest

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There might have been a moment on the weekend when Marcel Bellefeuille's inner voice implored him to sprint away from this thing while he still had his health and his sanity.

He came to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, after all, as a consultant. And as consulting gigs go, working with the Bombers' completely messed-up offence had the potential to keep him racking up billable hours well into the autumn and beyond.

"I didn't want to do this position when I came here," the Bombers new offensive co-ordinator admitted Monday. "This is not the reason I came here, I wanted to consult the rest of the season and try and help and make things better."

But all that changed Sunday when Gary Crowton was fired and the Ottawa product was asked by head coach Tim Burke and acting GM Kyle Walters to step directly into the crosshairs as tne new 'O' boss.

'We will evolve to a CFL offence as quickly as we can based on what the players can learn and we'll start to simplify the whole process -- ESPECIALLY at the quarterback position'

And suddenly this helping to "make things better" assignment has become his nightmare to fix. Now he is not only tasked with immediately breathing life into an offence for this weekend's game against Hamilton, but also with making some long-term personnel decisions, particularly at quarterback.

First things first:

Both Bellefeuille and Burke spoke Monday of making the offence more CFL-ish -- a not-so subtle dig at Crowton's playbook.

"There are some excellent elements to this offence," Bellefeuille said. "But there are some elements that -- I guess the simplest way to say it -- have been adjusted to fit the CFL field but not necessarily the style of CFL defences."

He spoke of some "disconnects as it relates to the CFL game" in the old scheme, of now working to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands faster and simplifying some routes and reads. An example provided by Burke Monday: on some plays receivers had the option to convert their routes depending on the defensive coverages. But those dotted lines in a pass pattern -- the option to, for example, take a route in or continue out -- led to some confusion.

Bellefeuille said he was going to erase some of those dotted lines to give receivers and quarterbacks the opportunity to play faster and eliminate the "paralysis by analysis."

Sounds simple enough, but it does speak to some of the flaws in Crowton's game plan. The same game plan, it's worth noting, which everyone was raving about after training camp because of its simplicity.

Another adjustment: Bellefeuille will handle all the play-calling while working to establish some sort of offensive identity. And while just giving Chad Simpson the ball early and often sounds simple enough, it's not that black and white.

"The biggest thing is finding an identity and calling the game to your identity," said Bellefeuille. "I feel overall we haven't necessarily had an identity. It started out as a run team, but defences wise up.

"We will evolve to a CFL offence as quickly as we can based on what the players can learn and we'll start to simplify the whole process -- ESPECIALLY at the quarterback position... You've got to be good at something or else you're going to be average at everything, that's just the reality."

The other reality for Bellefeuille, Burke and the Bombers is this: Weighing the pressure to win right here and now vs. developing some answers long term. Burke might be next in the firing line. He said Monday, "I'm not going to worry about it. All I can do is all I can do." So he's clearly not going to be big on rolling out one prospect after another for a test drive.

"We still have an opportunity to compete this season, there's still playoff positions that can be made," said Bellefeuille. "That's important, too. But it's also important to find out exactly what you have under a certain evaluation tool that we're going to put in place now with a regular CFL-style offence to see if the long-term answers are in-house or not.

"We have to balance those two things."

Notes: The team announced Monday wideout Chris Matthews will be out 4-6 weeks with ligament damage to his foot. It's likely Doug Pierce will step into the position this week.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2013 D1

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Updated on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 7:22 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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